Pakistan to consider transit of Indian wheat to Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan said on Friday it would “favourably consider” Afghanistan’s request for transportation of wheat offered by India through the Wagah border as part of its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Last month India announced 50,000 metric tons of wheat for Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance and requested Pakistan to ship the food grain via Wagah border.

Pakistan has not yet responded to the Indian request as normally it doesn’t allow the two-way trade for India and Afghanistan through the Wagah border. It only allows Afghanistan to export goods to India.

But a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with Afghan Interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said that Pakistan would consider allowing the Indian wheat to pass through its border.

“The prime minister conveyed that in the current context Pakistan would favourably consider the request by Afghan brothers for transportation of wheat offered by India through Pakistan on exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes and as per modalities to be worked out,” the official handout said.

The development is significant on two counts: one, the Taliban government accepted the Indian aid and, two, Pakistan allowed it to be delivered through Wagha despite suspension of bilateral trade and overall tense relationship.

But Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, claimed that the prime minister of Pakistan allowed India to send wheat to Afghanistan via Wagha border.

According to spokesperson, Muttaqi requested Imran for further facilitation at Torkham and Chaman crossings and for Afghan trade goods transit to Pakistan ports.

“H.E Imran Khan pledged that Afghan transit via Pakistan would be significantly facilitated, Indian assisted wheat allowed to reach Afghanistan via Wagah port as well as visa services facilitated, adding that he would help pave the way for continued humanitarian aid, in resolving existing political challenges on international stage and attracting humanitarian assistance, “Balkhi tweeted.

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to Afghanistan and the Afghan people in overcoming the dire challenges being faced by their country. The prime minister stressed the vital importance of a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region.

Prime Minister Imran underlined that the continued security and resolute counter-terrorism actions, respect for rights of all Afghans, and inclusivity in governance and politics would further contribute to Afghanistan’s stability.

The prime minister hoped that the interim Afghan government would continue to constructively engage the international community and will keep on taking positive measures to address the prevailing challenges.

Read more: Afghan FM hopeful of ‘positive’ results from Pakistan-TTP talks

He added that Pakistan had been consistently calling for provision of immediate humanitarian relief for Afghanistan. Imran also underscored the urgent need for releasing Afghanistan’s frozen assets and facilitation of banking transactions to prevent an economic meltdown.

Imran reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to stand by the Afghan people by extending all possible support, including humanitarian assistance-in-kind, to withstand the coming winter season.

In addition to the assistance already extended, the prime minister stated that Pakistan would provide essential food items, including wheat and rice, emergency medical supplies, and shelter items for Afghanistan.

Imran also stressed the need for the two countries to work together to facilitate the movement of people, trade, transit and regional connectivity for the promotion of progress and prosperity in the region.

Muttaqi was on a three-day visit to Pakistan. On Thursday he attended a meeting of the Troika Plus, comprising special envoys on Afghanistan from Pakistan, Russia, China and the US, in Islamabad. The Troika Plus asked the Taliban government to meet the international expectations.

On Friday, the special envoys from Russia, China and the US called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. During the meeting, Imran underlined the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan for security and prosperity of the entire region.

The prime minister said that he had consistently stressed that there was no military solution in Afghanistan. As such, Pakistan had all along supported an inclusive political settlement.

In the changed environment, the prime minister underscored the importance of inclusivity, respect of human rights, and resolute counter-terrorism actions.

Imran stressed the need for the international community to have a pragmatic approach and constructive engagement with Afghanistan to address mutual concerns and promote common interests of Troika Plus countries.

The prime minister laid a strong emphasis on provision of urgent humanitarian assistance as well as economic support to Afghanistan to avert the twin challenges of humanitarian crisis and economic collapse.

He hoped that the international community would recognise the gravity of the situation and take urgent measures, including release of frozen assets to help alleviate the sufferings of Afghan people. The prime minister highlighted the crucial role of Troika Plus in this context.

 

 





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